WAITE PARK, Minn. - At least 10 police departments in Minnesota investigated bomb threats in their cities on Thursday, part of a nationwide wave that targeted businesses, schools, public buildings and health facilities in a matter of hours.
Police in Minneapolis confirmed they received reports of multiple threats but would not reveal locations. In St. Paul, a police spokesperson said the department is investigating a single bomb threat emailed to an organization in the city.
Across the state, buildings in cities large and small — as far west as Alexandria and Morris and as far east as Red Wing — experienced threats.
In St. Cloud and neighboring Waite Park, a total of four businesses received emailed threats from unknown sources, police said. Those emails indicated that a bomb had been put inside the building and that it would be detonated unless the businesses transferred $20,000 in bitcoin.
The language of the emails mirrored many others across the country, Waite Park Police Chief Dave Bentrud said. Nearly every major city in America, including New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., reported threats.
"It appears to me to be a hoax or a scam, and an attempt to get money," Bentrud said. "It appeared to me this was an attempt to disrupt businesses."
None of the police agencies in Minnesota discovered any credible threats, echoing departments across the country who felt there was no immediate danger to the public. A spokesperson for the FBI in Minneapolis said he could not comment on specific threats, but he confirmed the agency is aware of the threats and will be working with law enforcement partners.
Bentrud said he forwarded information from Waite Park to the FBI.
Businesses in Waite Park did not evacuate, but multiple employees at the International Plaza building in Bloomington said management asked them to leave the building due to a threat. Police said International Plaza was among three buildings in Bloomington to receive threats on Thursday, along with Nystrom and Associates on East 78th Street and Wells Fargo Plaza on Xerves Ave.
In the West Metro, a spokesperson in St. Louis Park said police received at least one report about a threat. It was not deemed credible.
West of the Twin Cities, police in Morris said that multiple businesses and residences received emails about bombs being placed inside their buildings. Alexandria Police said several businesses received Bitcoin threats. In Appleton, police said they responded to a threat at the Appleton Area Health Services around 2:20 p.m. Authorities cleared the facility but did not uncover a threat.
In Red Wing, police said they responded to three emailed bomb threats on Thursday.
It remains unclear where the threats came from. No suspects have been apprehended anywhere in the U.S.
Waite Park's chief said he's never seen so many coordinated threats across the nation.
"No I haven't. Not like this," Chief Bentrud said. "I'd say it's very serious. Absolutely."